HONORÉ DAUMIER (1808-1879)
HONORÉ DAUMIER (1808-1879)
HONORÉ DAUMIER (1808-1879)
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HONORÉ DAUMIER (1808-1879)

Le premier bain

HONORÉ DAUMIER (1808-1879)
Le premier bain
signed with initials 'h.D' (lower right)
oil on panel
6 x 9 ¼ in. (15.2 x 23.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1852
Esnault-Pelterie collection, Paris.
R. Lagrave.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., London.
James E. Hanson, London (acquired from the above, 1954); sale, Christie's, New York, 7 November 2002, lot 207.
Acquired at the above sale by Arnold and Anne Ulnick Gumowitz.
K.E. Maison, Honoré Daumier: Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings, London, 1968, vol. I, p. 191, no. II-15 (illustrated, pl. 184).
L. Barzini and G. Mandel, L'opera pittorica completa di Daumier, Milan, 1971, p. 93, no. 65-1 (illustrated).
London, Tate Gallery, Daumier Paintings and Drawings, June-July 1961, pp. 12 and 29, no. 9 (illustrated, pl. 22G).

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Lot Essay

According to Karl-Eric Maison, the present painting is Honoré Daumier's original oil sketch for the first two versions of the Baignade series that he worked on between 1852-1855. There exists a charcoal sketch for the two central figures (Maison, no. D-227; coll. British Museum, London). One of the two versions compresses the composition within a vertical format (Maison, no. I-54), but the oil sketch closely follows the composition of the other, more carefully finished horizontal version (Maison, no. I-55). Maison suggests that the finishing touches in the present painting may possibly be the additions of later another hand.
The activity along the quays of the Seine provided Daumier with myriad subjects for his painting. In many of his compositions of bathers and washerwomen Daumier also focused on the relationship between parent and child. The figural grouping of the father and son in Le premier bain is extant in all of the versions, as well as in a second oil study on paper (Maison, I-87), and a later oil on panel Les enfants au bain (Maison, I-88) both of which date from 1855-1857. Daumier was a talented draftsman and colorist. His adept employment of outline, expressive pose and localized color convey a sense of immediacy in the present oil sketch. "The paintings were begun by drawing with a brush the rather precise outlines of all important details and flat color areas were confined within those lines...the substructure was then covered successively with transparent washes or glazes, alternating with layer upon layer of pigment. The artist's pronounced sculptural sense helped him in this building up of forms" (K.G. Maison, op. cit., 1968, p. 13).

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